I wish there was a type of “food bleach” that I could use when making healthy food for my family.

There are certain things you can blend in (literally) and they have no clue that you are feeding them healthy food. For example, three weeks ago I made fresh spaghetti sauce chock full of garden Roma tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, etc. My son and daughter both threw an absolute fit and went on and on about how “gross” it tasted, all because they could see chunks of vegetables. Fast forward two weeks. I made the EXACT SAME spaghetti sauce, but this time, used the stick blender on it. The same two children raved about how wonderful the sauce was.

This week, one of the meals I prepared was Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie (follow the link to find the recipe). I know certain things about my kids such as 1) Anne doesn’t like (the thought) of mushrooms, so instead of slicing them, I chopped them finely so she couldn’t see them. 2) My kids don’t like cauliflower. Now, I don’t really eat many potatoes these days, so I used cauliflower in place of 1/2 of the potatoes it called for and just made sure they didn’t see me preparing it. 3) I know my kids freak out at the idea of “green stuff” (a.k.a. spinach, kale, arugula, etc.) but the recipe called for it and it was wilted in the sauce and I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal if the food tasted good. Boy was I WRONG!

The Shepherd’s Pie was delicious. It tasted like one of my husband’s favorite meals, mushroom steak, but without the meat. Anne thought it was great despite the fact that there was “green stuff” in it (and she is the picky one). Ty on the other hand cried, whined, bargained, and otherwise drove me crazy for the whole 45 minutes it took for him to finally eat it. All because he didn’t like the “green stuff” (which incidentally had no taste other than the taste of the shepherd’s pie itself). (Side note: neither one of them had any idea that the mashed potatoes were half cauliflower and Anne had no idea that it was full of mushrooms. Score 1 for mom!)

Anne was cleaning the toilet a couple of weeks ago, and there was a stain that she couldn’t get off. While there was still blue toilet bowl cleaner in the bowl, I added some bleach to work on the stain. Within seconds, the blue cleaner was no longer blue. She found this absolutely amazing. And this is what came to my mind while I was fighting with Ty over eating the “green stuff.” I wish there was a way to bleach it so he couldn’t see it, so I could continue to trick him into eating healthy foods.

But really, I don’t want to have to trick them. I want them to find what I have found, that not only are these “green things” good for you, but they add so much to the party when you are making fresh meals – both taste and nutrition. I want them to want to eat healthily. I want them to be thankful that they live in a house where they aren’t being served junk on a regular basis and they have a mom who wants to teach them healthy eating habits NOW so they stick to them when they are on their own.

And then I saw this cartoon this morning on Facebook and I had to laugh. And cry a little inside.

Not only is this true of kids, but it is even true of many adults. They don’t spend much time in the produce section of the grocery store to know there is more to life than lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and green beans. They don’t understand all the nutritional value found in places other than meat, cheese, milk, and eggs. And to be perfectly honest, until I began pursuing a whole foods, plant-based diet, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. But I am learning. And loving every minute of it. I feel as if my taste buds have encountered a whole new world of flavors and my stomach is so much more satisfied after eating smaller amounts of more filling and nutritious food.

This kind of dietary change is not for everyone, but adding more whole and plant-based foods into any diet can be life-changing. Not only in terms of finding new things to like, but also in terms of overall health.

I just hope one day that my kids pick up on it and the fighting over the dinner selections comes to an end.

In the meantime, if you have any creative ways to sneak things into food, share them with me!